How Writing Fundamentally Changed The Way I Interact With Other Humans
Shifting the mindset: from instructing to sharing.
I’ve always had somewhat of a strong personality. When I think something, I say it, sometimes with enough enthusiasm that it comes out too strong.
More importantly, I would tell people what to do based on what worked for me.
You should do this, you should do that. Stop being so X, be more Y.
Boy, if I had been the other person talking to me, I would have been annoyed.
I realized recently I was doing that a lot with my brother.
I was basically conveying the message that there was something wrong with him, that he needed to fix himself and to do so, he had to become more like me.
Then I started writing on Medium.
I came across the BeYourself publication and asked the editor in chief, Joel Mwakasege, to feature the article about the 22 things I did by age 22. He liked it, but wouldn’t publish it unless I tweaked the voice from “You” to “I”.
I didn’t modify that article, but it got me thinking. I started experimenting that in the following articles I wrote.
Whenever I would catch myself a “You should”-sentence, I’d promptly modify it to “I experienced”-focus.
From the perspective of what I get from writing, it has made a tremendous difference.
Rather than coming from a place of “I will tell you what is good”, I’ve been experiencing “Let’s figure out what I felt at this time. Oh, so that’s what it was.”
This allows my audience to read through their own lens, rather than me pushing mine down their throat. It allows readers to take what resonates and let go of what doesn’t.
This has been the vector of my vulnerability.
It has showed me first hand how powerful vulnerability is to connect with others.
The best part is I have taken this habit offline
I have been paying close attention to not instructing in my real-life interactions.
It’s no coincidence I’ve started talking to my brother on the phone for over an hour every week, when we used to run out of conversation topics after 10 min.
It’s no coincidence I have become a better listener, and people have started to confide in me so much more.
It’s funny because I still work on how to react when that others share their struggle. Should I share my own experience, or not? One of my most important mentors, Gerhard Diedericks, always knew what to say without instructing, but without sharing details from his experience either.
Maybe that’s the next level. Or maybe that’s just a different style.
At any rate, writing has taught me how to listen better. By becoming aware of my tendency to instruct enabled me to let go and shift to a more empathetic sharing mindset.
That led to much higher-quality relationships.
Which feels fantastic!